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Dosmann to receive Fairchild Medal

Michael Dosmann (Photo: Tony Aiello)

Michael Dosmann on collecting trip to China. (Photo: Tony Aiello ’85)

Dosmann in the field.

Dosmann in the field.

Michael Dosmann (PhD Horticulture ’07) has been named the 2019 recipient of the David Fairchild Medal for Plant Exploration from the National Tropical Botanical Garden (NTBG).

“This is a very prestigious recognition,” says Nina Bassuk, professor in the Horticulture Section of the School of Integrative Plant Science at Cornell University. “Plant exploration is even more important today as explorers like Michael travel the planet to find rare plants, conserve genetic resources and preserve biodiversity.”

Since earning his doctorate from Cornell in 2007, Dosmann has led and participated in multiple botanical expeditions to China and Japan, as well as in the Eastern U.S. and the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas. These expeditions to acquire wild-collected seed have contributed significantly to the expansion of living collections, including those at the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University where Dosmann is Keeper of the Living Collections. His collecting has focused on maples (Acer) hickories (Carya), hydrangeas, viburnums and other species of conservation concern.

NTBG President Chipper Wichman says Dosmann exemplifies the spirit of David Fairchild, an early “Indiana Jones” type plant explorer who led expeditions in Asia, the South Pacific, Latin America and the Middle East in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

At the 147-year-old Arnold Arboretum – the oldest in North America – Dosmann curates and manages a global collection of temperate woody trees, shrubs, and vines comprising some 15,000 accessions. The Arboretum is an essential component of Boston’s park system, as well as an important education, research, and conservation facility.

In addition to being an explorer, Dosmann is also an enthusiastic advocate of having all people explore the plants in their own surroundings and worries people aren’t noticing the green around them. One of his professional goals is to bring the excitement of plant exploration to the public and inspire them to explore their own surroundings.

Wichmann also praised Dosmann’s very successful work popularizing plants through teaching and public education programs. “It’s researchers like Michael Dosmann who will engage the hearts and minds of the next generation of botanists,” he says.

“I think plant explorers have a moral obligation to bring back not just the plants, but also share the inspiration with others,” adds Dosmann, who will receive the medal February 1 at a black-tie dinner at The Kampong, NTBG’s historical garden and the former residence David Fairchild in Coconut Grove, Florida.

Based in part on National Tropical Botanical Garden news release.

Dosmann scans the canopy while collecting seed of Koelreuteria paniculata in South Korea in 2004.

Dosmann scans the canopy while collecting seed of golden rain tree (Koelreuteria paniculata) in South Korea in 2004.

 

Zachary Stansell: paving the way for a New York broccoli industry

Photo credit: Justin James Muir


By Erin Flynn, CALS News [2019-01-24]:

Zachary Stansell, a fourth-year doctoral student in the field of horticulture, is studying under the guidance of Thomas Bjorkman, professor in the Horticulture Section of the School of Integrative Plant Science.

We spoke to Stansell about his research and what he sees for the future of the broccoli industry.

The Eastern Broccoli Project is working to establish the scientific basis for a local, reliable source of broccoli production on the east coast. What are some of the hurdles and the opportunities to making this a reality?

Currently, reliable broccoli production on the east coast is constrained by a number of biological hurdles. For example, temperature sensitivity related damage often occurs. Modern broccoli types have also undergone a genetic bottleneck.

I believe that my work with this delicious super food—and, dare I say, favorite food—will enhance production and access to affordable, high-quality, locally produced broccoli. My work is addressing broccoli production issues by disentangling the genetic networks that regulate its adaptation to heat stress. I’m also taking a census of the current state of modern broccoli compared to large pools of genetic diversities contained in older “heirloom” types. This work will help us develop optimal broccoli types for New York state, while preserving the crucial genetic diversity needed to adapt to challenges such as climate change.

What is your most memorable student experience?

The relationships and community I’ve experienced at Cornell and Cornell AgriTech have been my meaningful life experiences.

Professor Björkman has been a consistent mentor, supporting and challenging me to create strong, inference-based research. I’m consistently impressed by the openness, inclusiveness and willingness of the Cornell AgriTech community to help graduate students.

What inspires you as a student at Cornell AgriTech?

As corny as it may sound, opportunities to give back inspire me. I feel immensely grateful to the people who have invested time, care, curiosity and resources into my development. I’m beginning to have an ability to give that back. For example, I am planning a demonstration garden to help Master Gardeners train community gardeners across New York state. I’m also collaborating with undergrad summer scholars to collect field data, write the code to analyze it, and make actual discoveries. Developing tools and methods to help quantify horticultural quality in other crops is also a passion of mine.

How do you think graduate student research benefits New York state agriculture?

My own experience here has allowed me to listen to and learn from nearly every stakeholder group in the New York state agricultural community. I’ve learned to communicate with people working on topics ranging from heat-stress mechanisms in model organisms, to farm workers transplanting cabbage, to venture capital funded agriculture entrepreneurs. I believe that sort of informational cross-linking created by graduate students serves to strengthen and integrate the network that Cornell AgriTech provides to New York state agriculture.

Online organic gardening, garden design courses start March 15

Registration is now open for two online courses offered by the Horticulture Section in Cornell’s School of Integrative Plant Science:

Raised bed vegetable gardenOrganic Gardening is designed to help new gardeners get started and help experienced gardeners broaden their understanding of organic techniques for all kinds of gardens.

Starting with a strong foundation in soil health and its impact on plant health, the course then explores tried-and-true and cutting-edge techniques for all different kinds of garden plants including food plants, trees and shrubs and lawn.

Participants read assigned essays and book excerpts, participate in online group discussions with other students, complete reflective writing/design work and take part in some hands-on activities. 
Most students spend about 5 hours each week with the content, though there are always ample resources and opportunity to do more.

View more information and full course syllabus for Organic Gardening.

garden_designx300Introduction to Garden Design will help you apply basic garden design techniques to your own garden. We teach an approach to gardening that is based on the principle of right plant, right place. In other words, we will consider the needs of the plant in addition to the needs of the gardener.

You’ll learn garden site analysis and apply the concepts to your personal space, gain proficiency in garden design principles and lay out a rough site plan overview of your garden design.

You will write and reflect on the process as you learn with the instructor taking an active role in this creative endeavor by providing feedback on your assignments and journal entries.

View more information and full course syllabus for Introduction to Garden Design.

Questions about either course? View FAQ or contact, Fiona Doherty: fcd9@cornell.edu.

Art of Horticulture final projects

Portrait of Frida Kahlo in locally collected and preserved flora.

Portrait of Frida Kahlo in locally collected and preserved flora.

If you’d like to catch a glimpse of students’ final projects in the Art of Horticulture course, you can sneak a peek online.

You can also see previous classes’ work (as well as other class projects and videos) by visiting the Art of Horticulture’s gallery page.

Emily Detrick (MPS Horticulture ’16), who is a lecturer in the Horticulture Section and gardener at Cornell Botanic Gardens, teaches the course.  She took over this semester from Marcia Eames-Sheavly, who created the course in 2003.

So You Want To Grow Hemp

Larry Smart examining hemp plants in the greenhouse at Cornell AgriTech.

Larry Smart examining hemp plants in the greenhouse at Cornell AgriTech.

From Science Friday podcast [2018-12-07:]

Good news could be coming soon for anyone interested in hemp, the THC-free, no-high strain of cannabis whose use ranges from fibers to food to pharmaceuticals. If the 2018 Farm Bill passes Congress in its current form, growing hemp would be legal and products derived from hemp would be removed from their current legal gray area.

Universities and private research teams have been busy studying hemp pests, genetics, and other cultivation questions since Congress legalized the research in 2014. Cornell horticulture professor Larry Smart explains why a plant that hasn’t been grown legally in the U.S. for nearly a century will require a monumental effort from scientists to catch up to crops like soybean and tomatoes.

Listen.

Congratulations Bridget and Jackie!

bridget and jackie with Dean Boor

Community members from across the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences gathered with friends and family Nov. 5 to celebrate the 15th annual Research, Extension and Staff Awards. The awards observe important and far-reaching achievements of CALS faculty and staff, who are nominated for continuously surpassing expectations and making significant, unique contributions to the college.

Two Horticulture Section staffers were among those honored, Jackie Nock and Bridget Cristelli. (Bridget recently departed the section to take a graduate student coordinator position at the Dyson School.)

“I am awestruck by the important and far-reaching achievements of our colleagues across the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences,” said Kathryn J. Boor ’80, the Ronald P. Lynch Dean of CALS. “Tonight’s honorees contribute to the life-changing work of CALS. Their research and extension activities epitomize the Land Grant mission of Cornell CALS — which is to be fundamentally invested in improving the lives of people, their environments and their communities in New York and around the world.

Read more about why Jackie and Bridget were honored.

Other familiar faces to the Horticulture Section were also honored: Christy Hoepting, Cornell Cooperative Extension Regional Agriculture Team,  Sarah Pethybridge, assistant professor in the Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology Section, and Tara Reed, School of Integrative Plant Science.

 

Hortus Forum prepares for annual Poinsettia Sale

Reposted from the SIPS blog, Discovery that Connects:

Hortus Forum members at the 2017 Poinsettia Sale

Hortus Forum members at the 2017 Poinsettia Sale

The trees may still be showing fall color, but Hortus Forum is busy getting ready for the winter holiday.  A subset of the club’s members are growing over 500 poinsettias in 16 different varieties ranging from “Christmas Feelings Merlot” to “Whitestar” and “Venus Hot Pink”. Pre-order yours today and select from one of these beautiful varieties!

Hortus Forum’s mission is to provide a welcoming community for all plant enthusiasts and cultivate an appreciation for plants and horticulture in the broader Cornell community through sales and hands-on experience with horticulture. All profits from our annual Poinsettia Sale will go towards paying for greenhouse space and funding club activities that provide members with the opportunity to explore the world of horticulture.

8,000 bulbs planted in 11 minutes

bulb planter and class

Students in Bill Miller’s Annual and Perennial Plant Identification and Use class (PLHRT 3000) got a lesson in efficient bulb planting October 30. Using a tractor-drawn bulb planter imported from The Netherlands that slices open the sod, drops in the bulbs and then replaces the sod over them, they planted more than 8,000 bulbs in less than 11 minutes.

That’s a strip more than 200 feet long and 3 feet wide along the edge of Caldwell Field near the McConville Barn. The “naturalized” planting of daffodils, hyacinths, tulips, crocuses, scilla, muscari and chionodoxa bulbs will push up through the turf before the grass begins to grow in spring.

Based on the class’s experiences planting bulbs by hand earlier this semester, Miller estimates that it would have taken the students more than a week to accomplish this task using hand tools. He tested out the planter last fall planting 30,000 bulbs into sod strips totaling more than 2,000 feet at the Cornell Botanic Gardens (view video) and the NYSIP Foundation Seed Barn.

“This machine greatly reduces the labor required to establish naturalized bulb plantings,” says Miller, a professor in the Horticulture Section of the School of Integrative Plant Science and director of Cornell’s Flower Bulb Research Program, who was aided by CUAES field assistant Jonathan Mosher.

“Some people might be concerned about the lack of precise placement of the bulbs,” notes Miller. “But actually most bulbs are forgiving about how deep they are planted, despite what you might see on the labels. They also do fine if not planted right side up.”

Miller hopes that planters like this might catch on with commercial landscapers and municipalities and result in more naturalized bulb plantings.  A benefit of this approach can be less mowing of turf areas due to the need to let the bulb foliage die back naturally.  In such areas, landscapers could substantially reduce carbon emissions from maintenance activity leading to a more sustainable landscape, Miller says.

Update: Geerlings, the Dutch company that makes the planters, does not export them directly. If you want to purchase one, Geerlings will sell a planter to a bulb exporter who will ship it to the U.S. and handle the paperwork.

Toward Sustainability Foundation grant deadline is Dec. 3

Hannah Swegarden was one of the investigators for the 2018 TSF-funded project, Connecting Consumer Acceptability and Farm Productivity to Improve Collard Varieties for East African Growers.

Hannah Swegarden was one of the investigators for the 2018 TSF-funded project, Connecting Consumer Acceptability and Farm Productivity to Improve Collard Varieties for East African Growers.

For more nearly 20 years, CALS has bolstered its sustainability research with a steady stream of gifts from the Toward Sustainability Foundation (TSF), a Massachusetts-based organization founded by an anonymous, eco-minded Cornell alumna.

Since 1999, TSF provided more than $1.5 million in funding for more than 100 faculty and student projects that examine the technological, social, political, and economic elements of sustainable agriculture.

The deadline for proposals for the 2019 round of funding is December 3, 2018

Read more about TSF grants, download the full Request for Proposals, and view titles and contacts of recent projects.

Growing the World’s Food in Greenhouses

Neil Mattson

Cornell Research website:

Neil Mattson, School of Integrative Plant Science, Horticulture Section, spent his childhood on a farm with flower and vegetable gardens. “If you know how to grow your own food, you’ll never go hungry,” Mattson recalls his grandmother, who grew up during the Great Depression, saying. “That ethos has carried with me.” And it has carried into his research projects, which aim to better understand controlled environment agriculture (CEA)—the cultivation of crops in controlled environments such as greenhouses, plant factories, or vertical farms.

Mattson is particularly interested in CEA. He says, “It integrates technology and agriculture and enables year-round production of high quality products.” For example, one can produce 20 to 50 times more lettuce per acre in a greenhouse than in a field in California.

Even so, there are challenges and drawbacks to growing crops in controlled environments, including the amount of energy and labor costs required. Given the challenges, one of the main questions driving Mattson’s work is essential: Is it realistic and economically viable to scale up CEA to feed the masses? “I’m trying to understand the pros and cons of this higher tech production system and want to understand its constraints and improve upon the constraints,” Mattson says.

Read the whole article.

 

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